Extraordinary 1886-1890 N172 Old Judge Tobacco Card Collection (592 cards)

Sold For: $211,500

Auction Year: 2009 spring

Lot: 25

Item Year: 1886

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Cards (1830-1899)

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For a complete description of the extraordinary 1886-1890 N172 Old Judge Tobacco Card Collection (592 cards) please go to:


The following is a slightly edited (shortened) version:

This outstanding collection of 592 different 1886-1890 N172 Old Judges represents one of the largest and most advanced collections of these classic nineteenth-century cards ever assembled, let alone offered at auction at a single time as a collection. Most Old Judge collections will include numerous different poses of the same player as that is the nature of the set. A collection of one-hundred cards could easily include only fifty different players and fifty additional poses of those players. An ideal Old Judge collection, in the eyes of most collectors (short of having all poses and team changes of all players, a seemingly impossible task) would include one card for each player in the set and also include every different team change for every player also represented. This more "modest" goal is a monumental collecting feat that has never been accomplished. This extraordinary collection comes close. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most complete Old Judge collection of different players and team changes that has ever been offered at auction in the history of collecting. There are only 521 different players known to exist in the entire Old Judge set. Few advanced N172 Old Judge collections have exceeded three hundred different players. This collection of 592 cards includes an incredible 444 different players and an additional 118 cards representing team changes. (Approximately 270 team changes in total are known.) The remaining 30 cards are duplicate poses comprised primarily of various special cards that enhance the collection in a significant manner, such as Hall of Famers, 1886 New York Met "Dotted Tie" portrait cards, 1886 Brownie Champs, or other particularly noteworthy, attractive, or interesting cards that similarly enhance the collection but are technically duplicate pose cards (including double-player cards and rare script series cards). Not including the eighteen essentially impossible California League cards known to exist, the Old Judge set includes 503 different players, and the 444 different players in this collection are just 59 cards short of a complete set.

The last collection of Old Judges offered by REA remotely approaching this magnitude was in May 2007 (a particularly strong collection of 403 cards including 297 different players), and before that January 1994 (and collectors still ask us about that lot to this day). Old Judge Collections of this size and quality just don't turn up. They have to be assembled, and only a few collections have ever been assembled that compare to this collection in terms of the number of different players and team changes. Collectors often see individual cards available, but the assembly of a collection including hundreds of different players has always been very rare, and the offering of a collection with 562 different players and team changes (444 players plus 118 team changes) is unprecedented. This is a world-class advanced collection that captures the entire cross-section of players, almost all of which can be found in no other set, from one of baseball's most exciting eras. This collection of 592 cards includes twenty-eight Hall of Famers, numerous extreme rarities and scarcities, portraits, rare teams, noteworthy stars and players such as Billy Sunday and Dummy Hoy, managers, horizontal cards, and rare poses.

The following is a list of some of the many highlights: Twenty-eight Hall of Famers: Anson (portrait, street clothes), Beckley (bat vertical, St. Louis), Brouthers (Det, bat at ready, SGC Authentic), Brouthers (Bos, bat at ready), Clarkson (Chi, right arm extended, right profile), Clarkson (Chi, throwing, hand hip high), Clarkson (Bos, batting), Comiskey (St. Louis, Capt sliding), Comiskey (St. Louis, catching), Duffy (Chi, batting), Ewing/mascot (NY), Hamilton (KC, catching), Hanlon (Det, leaning on bat, SGC Authentic), Keefe (bat at 30 degrees), Kelly (portrait, no cap, ‘Chicago’ on shirt), Kelly (bat horiz), McCarthy (sliding, Phil), McCarthy (sliding, St. Louis), O'Rourke (batting), Radbourn (bat on shoulder), Nash tagging Radbourn, Robinson (catching, hands thigh high), Rusie (hand chin high, Indpls), Thompson (Det, arms folded), Thompson (Phil, leaning on bat), Ward (sliding, left hand raised), Ward (throwing left), and Welch (hand at thigh). 1886 Brownie Champs portraits complete set (13): Bushong, Caruthers, Comiskey, Foutz, Gleason, Hudson (SGC VG 40), Kemmler, Latham, Nicol, O'Neil, Robinson, Von Der Ahe, and Welsh. Six 1886 ‘Dotted Tie’ Mets portraits: Donohue, Foster, Holbert, Mays, Ripslager, and Roseman. Two ‘1890 Players League’ cards: Irwin (portrait, Bos) and King (Chi). Four ‘1890 National League’ cards: Carroll (Chi), Cooney (Chi), Nagle (Chi), and M. Smith (Bos). Twelve Managers: Barnes (St Paul), Buckenberger (Columbus), Burnham (Indpls), Gaffney (Wash), Loftus (St. Louis), Loftus (Clev), Mutrie (NY), Schmelz (Cinn), Sharsig (Phil), Watkins (Det), Watkins (KC), and Williams (Clev). Thirteen ‘Two-Player’ poses: Barkley (KC), Burns (Chi), Clark & Hughes (Bklyn), Farmer (Pitt), Ferguson (Phil), Fields (Pitt), Fullmer & Tucker (Balt), Kelly (w/umpire Powell), McGarr (w/umpire McQuaid, KC), McGarr (w/umpire McQuaid, St. Louis), McGlone (Clev), Nicol & Reilly (facing each other), and Swartwood (Hamilton). Seven ‘Chicago Maroon’ cards: Croghan, Dunn, Hanrahan, Lange, Long, Rooks, and Schoeneck. Various other noteworthy cards: Fessenden (umpire, arms at side), Hoy (catch, hands neck high), Mascot (NY), Morrill (portrait, Bos), Sunday (Pitt, catching bending left), Sunday (Chi, batting), Whitney w/Dog (NY), and many, many more. This is an amazing collection, not just because of the quantity of the cards included, but because of the attention to detail with reference to different players and team changes, and the incredible amount of time, energy, and effort that was obviously required for its assembly. This old-time collection represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire a very significant, comprehensive collection of Old Judges, which with focus would be very practical to add to in the future, in the march toward completion (though that ultimate goal may be impossible) of the most fascinating and desirable of all nineteenth-century issues: the N172 Old Judge set. We have provided images of all 592 cards on our website. There are so many striking cards and images, and so many variables to Old Judges with reference to photo quality and contrast, that by providing images of the entire collection online we feel we an can most effectively communicate and document the quality of this extraordinary advanced N172 Old Judge collection. Reserve $50,000. Estimate $100,000+. SOLD FOR $211,500

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